Alexander Reid of Kirkennan (1747-1823)

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Alexander Reid of Kirkennan (1747-1823) was a professional miniaturist and topographical artist. Proprietor of the large Kirkennan estate near Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbright, a certain amount is known about his life: he received his artistic training in London and Paris; executed numerous portraits, pictures, and drawings of persons, places, and scenes in Dumfries and Galloway; had a studio in the town of Dumfries, in which, in 1796, he painted a now-famous miniature portrait of Burns; he succeeded to Kirkennan on the death of his brother William, in 1804, and died unmarried, in 1823, aged 76.

The value of his work, however, is in its importance to vernacular literature and national history and antiquities. As a Stewarty Laird he was connected with all the most interesting people in one of the most interesting districts in Scotland, during a momentous period of Scottish history. He was friends with Burns, Francis Grose, Robert Glenriddell, during the rise of Romanticism in the arts and a period which did so much to shape our view of Scotland’s history today. Reid’s works, mainly topographical in nature, provide rare illustration of the persons, places and scenes of this area at this time.

Furthermore, his known work is extremely rare; of six engravings from his paintings known to collectors, the original of only one of them, ‘Kipp Cairns’, has been traced to its present owner.

Our four paintings were until now hidden from public view in a collection of works belonging to Reid’s great nephew, George Corson.